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Summary: COntinuing series on questions about the Christian faith

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Sermon Series: “Questioning the Faith”

Sermon #7 “Question about Christ’s Presence”

Text: Matthew 18:20

OPENING JOKE: “Small Church Sleeper” A pastor in a small church was greatly annoyed by one of his elderly members who fell asleep during his sermons every Sunday. After the service one day, the pastor said to the old man’s grandson who always sat with his grandfather, “If you can keep the old man awake, I’ll pay you a dollar a week.” This worked for two weeks; the aged man was very alert and listened to the sermons attentively. On the third Sunday, however, there he was, up to his old tricks again, sound asleep in the pew. After the service the pastor called the boy over and said, “I am disappointed in you. Didn’t I promise you a dollar a week to keep your grandfather awake?” “Yes,” replied the boy, “but Grandpa gives me five dollars not to disturb him.”

INTRODUCTION: Today we are going to discuss a verse that is often used, but mostly used out of the context in which it was spoken.

QUESTION: Does this verse mean that Jesus is not with one person? Why does He specifically state, “Two or three?”

Basic Answer:

Christ is with the believer, in the person of the Holy Spirit, whether he is alone or in a group

Jesus even commanded His believers to take special time to be alone in their devotions

Matthew 6:6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Examples:

Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, even though she was alone

He spoke to Peter on the rooftop in Acts, even when he was alone

Christ is obviously not saying that He will not be with the lone believer – in fact He encourages us to spend time alone with Him

** So what does the verse that says ‘two or three’ really mean?

If we read in context we see that Christ is actually giving a dissertation concerning the church body

So to understand this verse let’s go back and begin with Jesus’ initial thought…

READ: Matthew 18:15-20

In these verses we see Jesus is not talking about His presence in the life of the believer

He is actually discussing how to deal with a person who has fallen into unrepentant sin

So how does the verse we are studying relate in context?

I. It takes two or more to constitute a church body

a. A local church body within the larger Body of Christ is like a local government within the larger government of the United States

i. In the time of Christ it took at least ten men (a minyan) to constitute a synagogue or even to hold public prayer

ii. Christ is making the point known that all believers make up His body, and no matter the size of the local congregation, they were still in His Body

iii. And a local church had no minimum size requirement

b. The specific number of ‘two or three’ comes into effect because Jesus had been giving the proper prescription for church discipline

i. Now I realize that church discipline is a touchy subject for some and even an appalling subject for some

ii. The idea that the wrongs of fellow Christians should ever be brought up falls into most people’s minds as judgment

iii. Even though Jesus and the Apostles all gave clear indications that it would be necessary

iv. And because this is the set of verses we are studying, I am going to speak about it

c. It is very important to note that all church discipline should be interpreted in light of the “parable of the lost sheep” that Jesus spoke earlier in this chapter

i. All discipline is supposed to be to ‘restore a brother’, not ‘destroy a brother’

ii. That is why v.15 says “if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

iii. Jesus gives us steps to restoration when dealing with a person who has fallen into sin

1. And right after this passage his gives the ‘parable of the unmerciful servant’

2. Which tells us that a person should always be forgiven if He seeks forgiveness

3. IMPORTANT POINT: This passage concerning discipline is sandwiched between two stories about restoration – We should keep that in mind while studying

d. Step #1 ‘Acknowledge his fault privately’

i. This is the most unused way, but still the best way to solve a problem

ii. Most times (not all) if you have a problem with someone and you go to them privately, and they know you haven’t spread their business around, the issue is solved before it becomes an issue

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